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Nymphomaniac: Volume 2

“Danish director Lars Von Trier’s anti-raunchy sexual epic about one hyper-promiscuous woman assumes a darker shade in this second, final episode. Our anti-heroine Joe now recounts to her one-man audience how, in middle age, she came to lose all sense of sexual pleasure and find a sadder joy in masochism, threat and violence. While much of the sex in the first film came across as a childish game, here it feels like self-imposed punishment as Joe submits to the whips of an S&M master (Jamie Bell) and the dangerous thrills of sex with strangers, abandoning her sleeping child at night.
It’s now, too, that Von Trier starts to bring together loose strands and build theme upon theme. Joe is on a tragic trajectory and can’t escape her past: that past, we learn, is Jérome (Shia LaBeouf), her first lover and later her boss, partner, father of her child and ultimately her nemesis. The pair meet and re-meet with all the subtlety of dodgy opera.
“Roughly, this is supposed to be England and equally roughly, between Part One and Part Two, we move from the 1970s to now. But rough is the word: you don’t come to a Von Trier film for social realism and a cast-iron sense of time and place. You come for raw honesty; provocation; contradictions; flights of fancy. You also come for brave, committed turns from actresses. And both newcomer Martin and old-hand Gainsbourg anchor these two films with performances you can’t take your eyes off; they’re the calm eyes of Von Trier’s storm.”- Dave Calhoun, Variety

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